It happened in the midwest. In the heart of the mainland. The Redskins gave up a lead late against the Chiefs. But it didn’t happen against the 49ers. And as far as D.J. Swearinger and his fight marshals are concerned, it won’t happen again.
People have said the attitude surrounding this team is different this year. They’ve said the team is tougher. Hungrier. More cohesive. We’ve seen evidence for this all season, but on Sunday, it was as apparent as it had ever been. The newfound brotherhood in the secondary. The pact of performance. A promise to produce.
The Redskins’ flight marshals laid down the law in Week 6, and when their two top officers went down, they didn’t flinch. Because flight marshals lock down the sky. That’s what they’re trained to do. That’s what they’re born to do. And they’ve done just that this season.
Despite playing top-tier offensive units in four of their five games, they’ve allowed only 228 passing yards per game. In clutch situations, they’ve delivered picks, they’ve delivered pass deflections, and they’ve delivered on their promise to defend the sky. Because the flight marshals have a strict ‘no failure’ policy. And head marshal D.J. Swearinger voiced those sentiments after the game on Sunday, when speaking to J.P. Finlay of NBCS.
"[Coming through in clutch situations] is something I try to preach every week in practice. Any time we go on two minute [drill] with the offense, any time we enter third down situations, end of the game situations, I try to tell guys, if we’re gonna be a championship team, we have to win in these situations. In Kansas City, we failed. And I told the guys, we can’t fail again this year, because we [rep these situations] every practice. We did a great job of winning tonight, and we gotta keep getting better."
One word comes to mind when you read that quote. Grit. It’s something every team needs in the face of injury. And it’s something the Redskins haven’t had in many years. The ‘next man up’ mentality hasn’t always translated to success. Good teams with depth can adapt and find success with this mentality. When teams fail in the face of adversity, you can be sure it’s because they couldn’t adapt. They didn’t have grit.
The Redskins showed they have grit on Sunday. Faced with the absence of their two top corners for most of the game, the young unproven players stepped up and solidified themselves as options the team can trust. Quinton Dunbar left the game as the highest graded Redskins’ player. Montae Nicholson made his presence felt with several ferocious hits and one near interception. And Kendall Fuller, the star of the day, put a nail in the coffin with his pick on C.J. Beathard in the game’s final seconds. It wasn’t always pretty. And it certainly wasn’t perfect. But the Redskins got the job done.
In the coming weeks, they’ll need this attitude to persevere if they wish to capitalize on their early success. The team recently lost Jonathan Allen for the season with a foot injury, and they’ll have no time to mourn his loss. They play the NFC East leading Eagles next week at their home stadium. And they need a win. They need it.
It won’t be easy. But don’t expect the Redskins to back down from the challenge. Don’t expect them to settle for a loss and make excuses. That’s not who they are. Not anymore. Because as D.J. Swearinger and the flight marshals tell us, they have a strict ‘no failure’ policy. And the players are happy to abide by that rule.